4 Tips for Caring For Seniors With Arthritis: Houston Home Care
Arthritis is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation and swelling in the joints. Symptoms include joint pain and stiffness that often gets worse with age. There are several different types of arthritis. Moreover, the arthritis causes range from normal wear and tear to underlying conditions to systemic in nature.
In this article, Houston senior home care providers will cover their best practices to care for seniors with arthritis.
Types of Arthritis
The two most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), both affecting millions of people every year.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. The causes of osteoarthritis are primarily due to the aging process but can also include past injuries to the joints and bone deformities. For example, common symptoms of this type of arthritis include:
- Pain in the affected joints during or after movement
- Joint stiffness upon being sedentary for some time
- Decrease in range of motion and decreased flexibility
- Swelling around the affected joints, which may be warm to the touch
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body’s immune system becomes overactive and begins to attack healthy connective tissue found in its joints. While the root causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown, certain risk factors are associated with this long-term disease. They include age, gender, family history, environmental factors, obesity, and certain lifestyle choices like smoking. The physical symptoms of RA are similar to OA, but there are more significant ramifications associated with RA like fatigue, malaise, and depression.
Effective Care for Arthritis Management
The management of arthritis symptoms is crucial in reducing pain and warding off disease progression so seniors can experience longer periods of independence, higher degrees of autonomy, and improved quality of life.
Below are 5 tips to effectively care for your Houston senior home care arthritis patients to help them take control of their health and live a better quality of life.
Medication management is an important part of arthritis-related senior home care. Often, over-the-counter medications to help with arthritis pain are part of a senior’s daily intake. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can alleviate pain in both OA and inflammatory RA. Examples of common NSAIDs include Advil or Motrin (Ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen). Tylenol (acetaminophen) is another effective OTC medication to treat symptoms of arthritis, mainly OA.
In some cases of severe arthritis, doctors will prescribe medication such as corticosteroids administered via injection or by oral capsule. Steroids are important medications to monitor because they have an increased risk of side effects as opposed to their OTC counterparts. Overall, medication management is crucial for seniors because certain arthritic medications, both prescription and non-prescription can have contraindications.
2: Nutritional Supplementation
Vitamin and mineral supplements can be an effective measure in helping to get to the root of arthritis pain and flare-ups. There are certain supplements that seniors can take to fill in the nutritional gaps that may exist in their current diet. In fact, studies have shown that natural supplements in combination with traditional treatments produce favorable outcomes. Glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and SAM-e are among the natural supplementation products that show promising research in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin are present in human cartilage. Taken as supplements, they may help improve function and alleviate pain.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found in fish. Furthermore, they are touted for their anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to help reduce the utilization of pain medication in OA and RA patients.
- S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e) is a compound found naturally in the body that has anti-inflammatory, cartilage-protecting, and pain-relieving effects. According to arthritis.org, studies show that SAM-e is about as good at relieving OA pain as NSAIDs without the side effects.
3: Joint-Friendly Exercise
It is no secret that the benefits of regular exercise have a powerful impact on our health. This is especially true for arthritis-related senior care because this condition can lead to significant disability if not properly managed. Encouraging clients or patients to participate in low-impact, joint-friendly physical activity will help loosen joint tissues, increase flexibility, and build muscle around the joints to alleviate inflammation. Physical exercise also helps promote a healthy body weight, which decreases the risk of arthritis progression and flares by reducing the amount of pressure put on the joints.
There are a wide-ranging array of exercises that seniors with arthritis can safely and effectively participate in with positive results. The key is to choose mild to moderate-intensity workouts that promote the range of motion functionality and muscle building. For example, some highly recommended activities to incorporate into an exercise program for arthritis patients include:
- Water aerobics and swimming (water is a gentle, yet effective resistance tool to build flexibility and strength)
- Yoga or any mind-body connection activity that seniors can modify accordingly to their fitness’ needs (more on this below)
- Chair aerobics
- Walking or low-grade hiking
4: Mind-Body Connection
The mind-body connection is the belief that the emotional, mental, and spiritual components of your psyche can work in tandem with your physical body to produce powerful and measurable outcomes. How we think affects how we feel, and how we feel affects how we think. Therefore, based on this principle, the mind and body can be powerful allies in managing arthritis pain and discomfort.
Relaxation therapy can have a healing fret on the mind and body. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, some effective techniques to treat arthritis that emphasize a mind-body healing interaction include:
- Full-body massage
- Acupressure and Acupuncture
- Yoga and Meditation, which promote awareness by connecting controlled breathing and fluid movement
As caregivers, the best thing you can do to help seniors with arthritis is to keep them properly medicated to control symptom breakthroughs, encourage an active lifestyle, and inspire a positive outlook through the mind-body connection. Click here for more tips on how to deliver exceptional Houston senior home care!